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wheeler’s eight tracks

Alanis Morissette sings of suffering and trying to keep it together, Hawksley Workman revisits a classic Canadian song that looks forward to silent summer evenings, an idiosyncratic expat bluesman implores us to carry on and Yellowknife rockers Digawolf ask for a stove and music to keep warm. The end of the winter is in sight. Eight new singles help in the pushing through.

AFTER HOURS, BY THE WEEKND

When Abel Tesfaye begs for forgiveness in his trembling-lip falsetto – “I’ll never let you down again, again” – it’s clear the lothario’s transgression is not his first. The title track to the Weeknd’s soon-to-arrive fourth studio album recalls the moody, night-tripping vibes of his earliest work. We’ve seen his remorseful act before. (Listen on YouTube)

SMILING, BY ALANIS MORISSETTE

The You Oughta Know singer is nothing if not candid. Smiling, a towering ballad built for arenas, is about emotional crashes and manic mood swings: “These are my places off the rails.” Set to drop May 1, Morissette’s new LP Such Pretty Forks In The Road covers personal ground with songs Reasons I Drink, Diagnosis, Missing The Miracle and Losing The Plot. (Listen on YouTube)

DAMSEL IN DISTRESS, BY RUFUS WAINWRIGHT

The new single from the elegant melodicist arrives as if delivered by a Big Yellow Taxi, all bouncy acoustic strum bathed in waves of reverb. The song, from Wainwright’s forthcoming album Unfollow the Rules, is an homage to Joni Mitchell, inspired by L.A.'s Laurel Canyon. Wainwright remembers “smiles” and “wiles,” and we remember a time when paradises weren’t yet buried by parking lots. (Listen on YouTube)

CARRY ON, BY SON OF DAVE

The U.K.-based blues eccentric Benjamin Darvill gets the blahs, the seasonal kind or otherwise. His solution involves harmonica enthusiasm, chicken-squawk guitar licks and a toe-tapping giddy-up. (Listen online)

ESO QUE TU HACES, BY LIDO PIMIENTA

No matter how mesmeric her music, there’s almost always a don’t-tread-on-me message to what the Colombian-Canadian firebrand expresses. This soaring single off her April-arriving Miss Colombia is rich in celebrative pageantry, but with a rebuke: “Eso que tu haces, no es amor” (that thing you do is not love). (Listen on YouTube)

ECHO BEACH, BY HAWKSLEY WORKMAN

Using synths and a vocoder, the Montreal-based singer-songwriter Hawksley Workman is something of a wistful robot as he reimagines the classic Martha and the Muffins hit from 1979. Knowing that we’d be back at Echo Beach some day is what kept some of us going, when our suns went down. (Listen on YouTube)

WEIGHT OF THAT WEEKEND, BY LAND OF TALK

Gliding on dusky, open-road folk-rock terrain, Montrealer Elizabeth Powell offers a “prayer for love." Powell has described the first single off her band’s upcoming Indistinct Conversations album as a “recognition of having been on the receiving end of a lifetime of sexual coercion, assault, boundary violations and subsequent gaslighting." (Listen on YouTube)

HIGH ARCTIC, BY DIGAWOLF

This trudging, hell-bent song from the Yellowknife rockers just walks right through you, like a steam-powered Tom Waits. “Rock and roll will feed your soul / Have you heard, don’t you know.” As an argument, the song convinces. (Listen on BandCamp)


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